University of Maryland Extension

State food safety laws

Nicole Cook, B.S., J.D., LL.M., Environmental and Agricultural, Faculty Legal Specialist, Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), University of Maryland Eastern Shore

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States share regulatory authority with the federal government in many areas, but states enjoy complete jurisdiction over farmers markets and other types of direct farm sales, retail sales, restaurants, and many types of small-scale agricultural production and processing entities. In any given state, a variety of government agencies may have collective responsibility for the safety of the retail and restaurant food supply, including, for example, agriculture departments, health departments, environmental protection agencies, consumer protection agencies and business licensing agencies. These state agencies (1) administer federal food safety programs (if the state has adopted a cooperative agreement with the federal government), (2) create, implement, and enforce state-level food safety regulations, and (3) provide guidance to industry participants on compliance with federal and state laws.

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Federal food safety laws

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